Tonsillectomy and Recovery – Tips from Grant
So, like all of you I… probably somewhat compulsively, read these stories trying to get a sense of what my tonsillectomy experience might be like. And like a moth drawn to a flame kept going back to the most horrible graphic ones… praying that story would not be mine but mentally preparing as if it would be. So, if you’re like me and it’s 1am and you’re still reading these posts wondering what your experience next week will look like, let me offer you mine.
I grew up as a kid in the 80s with multiple yearly bouts of strep. Of course the pendulum had swung from take those tonsils out to antibiotics work every time so for years I was on a first name basis with all the good ones. It’s funny when a teenager can discuss antibiotics with the doc as a peer rather then a patient. I suspect many of you were the same.
Then in my 20s came tonsil stones. Those wonderful smelly disgusting pains in the neck. Literally.
The only real health issue I have is psoriasis and had it so bad that it was causing multiple ear inflections. So I found a top flight ENT here in SoCal who worked with me and during the course of the first exam said “we can fix the ears but the real question is will you let me take out your tonsils”. He said I had the tonsils of an 8 year old trapped in a 30 year olds body. Lol. I ruined the poor guys day every time I said no.
So fast forward a decade and I’ve been dutifully picking stones out of my tonsils on a regular basis and then I get sick. I mean 3 weeks of awful. And my tonsils swell up the size of golf balls. I kid you not. I sat there for 3 days during the worst of it thinking ok… you can do this… count to 3… swallow. It was excruciating.
And at that moment I resolved to never go through that again. The tonsils need to go.
So I called my ENT. End of year is coming, time for us to both have a Christmas present.
They didn’t call back. Weeks. Left messages. Talked to nurses. No movement. What the heck?
So… time to find a new ENT. As you know by now it’s not just an ENT you need, it’s an ENT who is also a neck surgeon. They’re harder to find. And of course I wanted one with stellar reviews associated with a good hospital. I found 2. One took my insurance. So I made an appt. They saw me 3 days later.
I fill out the paperwork and under the “why are you here” column I put “take my tonsils out.
Doc walks in. Very nice, gentle man. Soft spoken. Takes a look at my tonsils, my paperwork and says “you’re not going to like me… I won’t take them out. But I’ll be happy to treat you and if they continue to bother you then we will take them out.” I won’t lie. I almost decked him.
We go 9 rounds. All very civil mind you. And he finally says “you can’t just walk into a surgeon’s office and ask for surgery”. I said sure you can… it’s called a boob job.
I think that broke the ice a bit but I am convinced he either thought I was crazy, reckless or suffering from Munchausen’s. So he says if your other ENT wanted them out so bad go back to him.
So I’m lit. I pull put my phone as I walk back to the car and unload on the other ENT. Which proves what I always say… there is at least one fact in play you don’t know about. In this case my old ENT has suddenly and without warning announced his retirement. Still don’t know why. But he offered to write a letter to the new ENT recommending a tonsillectomy.
So I walk back into the ENTs office and say will a letter from my old ENT push you over the edge? He waffles. So I play my Trump card… look, I’m not a normal patient I’m a paramedic. I know what i am asking for and know this will be tough.
Fast forward 2 weeks and he finally agrees to do surgery. I mention this all because I have found that there seems to be a shift toward surgery as a last option rearing it’s head again. If you have been fighting your tonsils for years don’t take no for an answer.
So the day before surgery and I have all my meds filled, my bed all made up. The wife and parents have all taken the day off to help me and our 5 little kiddos. Hugs, Kisses and Prayers. Out the door I go.
I had my surgery done at an out patient surgery center. I had mixed feelings about this. Chances are they will be more competent because this is all they do all day long but on the flip side if something goes wrong I’m not in a hospital.
As a medic I have seen the good and the bad. First appearance this place was on the good side but the boxes and exposed cords in the lobby were off putting. But everyone was incredibly friendly. The attitude was more like taking a trip then a surgery… ok let’s get this show in the road. Everyone was smiling and joking. Very light atmosphere. I needed that.
At every turn it was how can we make this easier for you. Heated blankets. Constant by name personal service. I was impressed. Once we got back into the center itself it was spotless and top flight. There was only one fly in the ointment which I will get to later. But we finally head back into the operating room. A quick poke.. wait can I change my mind? And the next thing I wake up in pain.
So when I met with the anesthesiologist before the surgery… right before. I said let’s talk post op pain control. I am 6’3″ 250lb. Don’t give me the same 200 mcgs of Fentyal that you give a 140 lb women and walk away. I need you to be aggressive. She promised. I said more over I have a 90 min drive back home so you need to come up with something that bridges that gap. Again she promised.
Well I woke up 8/10 pain and the freaking anesthesiologist wouldn’t budge off the 200mcgs. No dilauded. No MS04. Nada. Even my post op nurse (who was a God send) went after her multiple times. And seriously, if it weren’t for that nurse and her kindness I would have clawed my throat out. She was right there next to me non stop for 90 mins. Finally she got so fed up she went and found some oral analgesic I could choke down (after about 30 mins of fighting with anesthesiologist).
She made me toast, slushy water. Warm blankets. What did I need? Even if it was just to hold my hand. Fresh ice compresses for my neck. Every time she left to go get something she had a another nurse come stand near me. I mean she was an angel. I watched the other nurses off chatting in a corner, they were not doing this for their patients.
So discharge time… about 3 hours after I check in. My surgeon comes to see me. All went well. Take your meds. You’re going to hurt tomorrow. Hang in there.
I’ll be honest. By the time I made it home I felt decent. 10mg of oral Percocet had kicked in (God bless the nurse). I took a shower. Ate an egg sandwich and was talking. No joke.
Took a nap. Went back to my oral dose of 5mg Percocet (by they way… demand Percocet… do not settle for the codeine or worse the Norco b.s.) and the pain came back pretty steady.
Ok… since I have a medical background I am going to tell you what I did. This is NOT medical advice and I am telling you not to do this. But my Percocet dosage was 5/325 q 4 hours. I looked up the max dose and bumped myself to 1 q 2. That brought my pain down to 6/10. And I went to bed.
For the love of all that’s holy… set an alarm and take your meds. Get a frozen bottle of water and it will be slushy in 4 hours.
The night was painful but uneventful. The next morning had a couple of bowls of soup. I found the bread caused some minor bleeding.
Brushed my teeth and settled in with a good book.
By 9 am I knew I needed more pain control and was maxing the Percocet so I called my doc. Again, conservative but a nice guy. He recommended Toradol and we compromised on the Percocet 1 q 3.
Toradol worked wonders. Pain down to 4/10 and by dinner I was eating 4 chicken kabobs and 2 cheeseburgers. No joke. I may have over done it though as I had some bleeding.
Night time was fits and starts. I will tell you 2 benefits off the bat… my mind is so much clearer then it has been in years and for the first time I can breathe through my nose all night long. In fact I don’t think I have blown my nose once in 3 days!!!
I woke up to spitting up a bunch of green flem from my throat and decided to take the antibiotic the doc gave me.
I’ve noticed since starting the Toradol that my scabs in the throat have been more fragile and subject to slight bleeding but the pain control is worth it. Probably the most annoying thing at this point is that double clamp they used has deformed my tounge to the point that it looks like the upper part of a squid. No joke. Feels funny too.
Let me offer some additional comments… in addition to the drugs, I got some Chinese healing herbs which I take morning and night. 6mgs of Vit C daily. 8 doses of probiotic and iced st. johns wort tea with honey. As well as spoonfuls of coconut oil that I’ve let melt in my mouth and coat my tonsils. Oh and xylitol gum and liberal sprays of colloidal silver onto the scabs multiple times per day.
Also coconut water and aloe juice.
NO SUGAR. At all. Or dairy.
Does my throat hurts? Yeah. Not bad as long as I keep on my regimens.
Do I feel better? Heck yes.
Would I do this again knowing what I know now? 100% yes.
My wife has been a God send. My parents have been incredible. (As a 38 year old it’s hard to be babied again but I’m grateful)
All told it has not been without it’s challenges but it has not been the horror story that so many have posted on the internet. It still day 3 but wanted to share this encouragement.
I get bursts of energy followed by droopy eyelids. I can talk but pay for it. I spend 90% of my day in bed and have a decent amount of gas. Coughing burping and sneezing are evil right now but it’s all manageable and not near as bad as I feared.
So if you’re like me and reading this at 1 am don’t let the bad stories scare you off. I was eating cheeseburgers 30 hours after my surgery. You can’t beat that.
2 other thoughts… 1) you do not have to sit there an suffer. Demand pain control. 2) I have praying throughout this and God has been so kind in giving me peace and answering my prayers in the long nights. If you try to lone wolf your life, God help you, it won’t work. We were designed for Him, not us.
It’s not a walk in the park but like so many other things it doesn’t have to be a disaster. If you need them out get them out. Just be smart about it.
Merry Christmas from a bed somewhere in SoCal.